There’s no denying that Edmonton is a winter city. With a large part of the year spent under a blanket of snow, you may think that an Edmonton winter is something to dread. Yet for outdoor enthusiasts, winter in Edmonton is filled with fun and adventure!
Things to Do in Edmonton in Winter- The Best Edmonton Winter Activities
With so many exciting and invigorating winter activities in Edmonton, it’s easy to embrace the snowy season in Alberta’s capital city. From gliding across picturesque ice rinks to racing down snow-covered hills, here are some of the best sporty and outdoorsy things to do in Edmonton in winter.
Many community leagues have outdoor ice rinks that are great for playing hockey, but for a more casual, scenic skate head to one of Edmonton’s river valley parks.
The parks along the North Saskatchewan River are home to several of the best outdoor skating rinks in Edmonton. You’ll find skating areas with indoor warm-up shelters at Victoria Park, Hawrelak Park, and Rundle Park.
Victoria Park is a popular place to skate because there’s an oval rink and a tree-framed ice path that loops through the park. After dark, part of the Victoria Park IceWay is illuminated in a kaleidoscope of colour, making for an enchanting evening skate.
At Hawrelak Park you can skate on the large pond and some years the city also builds a second rink in the field near picnic shelter #2.
You may also want to lace up your skates at the Rundle Park IceWay. This 2 km long ice trail weaves around the trees and connects to an additional skating rink and shinny surface.
The river valley parks aren’t the only places you can go skating in Edmonton. At the Alberta Legislature you’ll find a rink on the south side of the building and at Churchill Square you can skate in front of City Hall.
Tobogganing is one of the best winter activities in Edmonton for the young at heart or anyone with a need for speed.
There are so many great toboggan hills in Edmonton that you can race down on your sled of choice. Of course, any snow-covered hill will do so you’ll find sledding opportunities in several neighbourhoods. A long-time local favourite is the Argyll toboggan hill in Mill Creek Ravine.
The “official” toboggan hills that the city maintains can be found at Government House Park, Whitemud Park North, Rundle Park, Emily Murphy Park, and Gallagher Park. The hill in Gallagher Park is huge so it’s a blast for adults, but there is a more kid-friendly option on the east end of the hill.
The city-run toboggan hills have reduced hazards, safe run-outs, and safety signage, but like all hills, you slide at your own risk.
Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
Downhill skiing or snowboarding is another way that families can have fun during an Edmonton winter. With four small ski hills conveniently located in or very close to Edmonton, you can keep your skills sharp in between trips to Alberta’s Rocky Mountain ski resorts.
Snow Valley is located in Whitemud Park and features 8 runs, 2 terrain parks, and 4 lifts. Edmonton Ski Club is close to downtown (between the Muttart Conservatory and Gallagher Park) and has 5 runs, a terrain park, and a snow tubing hill.
On the eastern edge of the city, in the Strathcona Science Park, is the Sunridge Ski Area. This river valley hill has 12 runs, 3 terrain parks, 6 lifts, and a snow tube park.
The largest ski area in the Edmonton area is Rabbit Hill Snow Resort, southwest of the city. Rabbit Hill has 8 runs on 40+ acres, 2 terrain parks, and 5 lifts.
Since these urban ski areas have short runs and more gentle slopes than in the mountains, they are great hills for beginners and kids.
Cross Country Skiing
One of the best winter activities in Edmonton for staying fit and having fun is cross country skiing.
Like many of the other things to do in Edmonton in winter, cross country skiing can be enjoyed at several of Edmonton’s parks. Groomed ski trails for both classic and skate style can be found at Gold Bar, Goldstick, Capilano, Hawrelak, Kinsmen, Victoria, and Argyll parks. The interconnected trails in Gold Bar and Goldstick parks offer the best variety in terms of routes, difficulty, and distance.
Some other places to cross country ski in Edmonton are at golf courses. Cross country ski trails are groomed at the Victoria and Riverside courses, as wells as the Royal Mayfair Golf Club (it’s open to non-members in the winter for skiing).
Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing
There are so many great walking trails in Edmonton, especially in the river valley, that can be enjoyed year round.
In the winter, the city clears the paved shared-use paths so they can still be used for walking, running, and biking. The unpaved paths that don’t get cleared of snow become hard-packed from use, so are still good options for a winter hike. For a nice hike surrounded by nature, check out the Whitemud Ravine Nature Reserve or Mill Creek Ravine Park.
Since the snow on the trails gets cleared or packed down, if you want to go snowshoeing it’s best to visit a recreation site outside of the city. A lot of places to hike near Edmonton are good for snowshoeing since the trails aren’t used as much in the winter. Still, it’s a good idea to head out the morning after a fresh snowfall for the best snowshoeing conditions.
If you don’t have snowshoes but want to try them out, you can rent a pair at Elk Island National Park.
The wide, oversized tires of a fat bike make it possible to explore Edmonton’s bike trails during the winter. Designed for low ground pressure, these bikes make it easier to navigate through the snow.
You can fat bike on any trail in the winter, but these bikes will especially come in handy for biking in the river valley on paths the city doesn’t clear in the winter.
Review of the Winter Activities in Edmonton
With so many things to do in Edmonton in winter, outdoor adventurers will have no trouble finding ways to stay active during a long Edmonton winter. There’s no need to travel out of the city or head to the mountains because many of the best things to do in Alberta in winter can be enjoyed in the heart of Edmonton.
Another great thing about these Edmonton winter activities is that most of them are free. Except for downhill skiing, there are no admission/user fees beyond the cost of your equipment.
Tips for Visiting Edmonton in Winter
Weather: Like the rest of Alberta, winter in Edmonton is characterized by a wide range of temperatures and conditions. The coldest months are usually January and February and daytime temperatures typically range from -5 to -15°C in the winter (but it can get warmer and much colder than that!)
What to Wear: Dressing in layers that allow you to move freely is essential when doing outdoor winter activities in Edmonton. You’ll likely be cold at first, but once you get moving your body will warm up. Come prepared with warm boots, a base layer of wool or synthetic fabrics, a warm parka, snow pants or another type of insulated pants, gloves, and a toque. You may also want to put a traction device on your footwear to prevent slipping on the ice.
Outdoor Rinks and Ice Conditions: You can check ice conditions and opening hours of the city operated rinks on the City of Edmonton website. Some rinks open earlier in the season than others, so it’s important to check before heading out.
Information was correct at the time of publishing but can change without notice. Please confirm directly with service providers.
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